LGBT Life in the UK: Yours in Solidarity

LGBT Life in the UK: Yours in Solidarity

November 15, 2009 Commentary Featured Thought of the Gay 0

Rainbow BritishRecently, I was lucky enough to meet Daniel Pitt, human rights champion & equality campaigner, also known as myinfamy on Twitter. Daniel is from the UK and often has interesting Tweets. I found myself realizing that we focus so much on equality in the United States, that we only notice other countries when something terrible happens, as in Iran, or when a country legalizes same sex marriage and we feel even more behind. I asked Daniel if he would be willing to tell us about LGBT life across the pond. I’m delighted to say that he agreed and wrote an awesome post.

Away from the insultingly ignorant stereotypes of a femme, happy life as a gay guy in Britain, I just wanted to pitch some statistics to make you really think about how difficult LGBT life can be in the UK. One in five LGBT have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years. One in eight have been a victim in the last year. Three in four of those experiencing hate crimes or incidents did not report them to the police. Only six per cent reported them to third parties. Only one per cent of all victims report that the homophobic hate crime or incident resulted in a conviction.

A third of victims do not report incidents to the police because they do not think the police would or could do anything about it. Modern living still allows these prejudices to exist and ignoring the issue at hand won’t make it flee. We need to be taking a stand for LGBT equality – the exact opposite of doing nothing, allowing these intolerant bullies to win whilst continuing to damage our integrity.

We have a large number of LGBT equality organizations, health and wellbeing centres, and so on; but we don’t mention it in sex education classes to our adolescents. Why? Because we don’t want to “actively promote” homosexuality. It is a sickening indictment that people still wish to encourage this behaviour of cloaking what their narrow minds perceive as indecent behaviours.

A 2007 report by UK gay rights organisation Stonewall found that gay people in the UK experience more extreme homophobia as young people than as adults. The research found that two thirds of young gay, lesbian and bisexual pupils had experienced direct bullying in Britain’s schools. 92% of young gay people had been subject to verbal abuse, and 41% has been physically assaulted. A 2008 survey found that 66% of gay and lesbian people would expect to face barriers due to their sexuality if they wanted to run as an MP in the UK. One in five lesbian and gay people in the UK said they had experienced bullying in the workplace as a result of their sexual orientation.

Schools have an important part to play in challenging homophobic attitudes. Lesbian and gay pupils are more likely to feel positive about school if their school has explicitly stated that homophobic bullying is against the rules. In schools that have said homophobic bullying is wrong, young gay people are 60 percent more likely not to have been bullied. Studies have shown that personal attitudes become more tolerant towards gay people if individuals are exposed to an educational programme about homosexuality, such as lectures, courses and workshops. Also, when schools respond strongly to homophobic bullying, lesbian and gay young people are more likely to feel able to be themselves, more likely to feel part of the school community and more likely to be happy. Therefore it is important to report any incidents of homophobia so that more young people are encouraged to do the same. This also acts as a deterrent to those carrying out homophobic bullying.

Until the final hurdle, the last taboo, is dead and gone, we can never call ourselves a fair, equal, tolerant nation.Homophobia needs to be tackled head-on and people need to realize that homophobia should be unacceptable in today’s society, just as racism, disablism, sexism or any other prejudice is. With patience and tireless one day following generations will feel as if being gay is not immoral or wrong. I just hope I’m around to see that magical event.

The statistics quoted in this article are from , one of Daniel’s favorite LGBT websites. Daniel ended his email to me with “Yours in Solidarity”. Solidarity indeed Daniel. Equality for all humans is the ultimate goal. I hope I’m around to see that magical event.

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